Stanley Theatre

516 N. Howard Street,
Baltimore, MD 21201

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John Bennaman.
John Bennaman. on September 21, 2013 at 2:37 pm

This Coming September 23rd 2013 will mark the Stanley Theatre’s 86th Anniversary Inaugural Opening with special event “The Stolen Bride” with Billie Dove and Warings Pennsylvanians including Carlos and Valerie dance trio and Ernie Cooper at the Fabulous Stanley Theatre Kimball Organ. It will be 86 years ago that the Stanley opened and 38 years of operation before sadly being demolished for a lousy parking lot. Long Live The Memory of The Stanley/Stanton Theatre of Baltimore City MD (September 23rd, 1927-April 17th to July of 1965) 38 years of Fine Theatrical Entertainment to Baltimoreans Everywhere. If there was a single moment in your life that you can remember as a young lad or teenager going to the Stanley or Stanton please feel free to share that memory with us here on Cinema Treasures and keeping the memory of The Most Prettiest and most spectacular theatre ever seen in Baltimore The Fabulous Stanley Theatre

John Bennaman.
John Bennaman. on July 3, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I have one with Morris A Mechanic’s initials on the back dated 1963

MarkA
MarkA on June 30, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Mayfair: OMG, I have two copies of Melody Mac’s album. One is signed by Dottie McClain Whitcomb. BTW, the console of the Stanley Kimball organ lives on at the John Dickinson High Kimball Organ, restored to pristine condition.

John Bennaman.
John Bennaman. on May 20, 2013 at 1:30 am

A little small correction Mayfair not Mayflower. I am very interested to hear that you attended Western High School on Howard Street. The Building in S still Up but now is used as Apartments and Rent Space. The Mayfair is closed up and in terrible disrepair condition with the roof collapse in 1998. And the poor Stanley gone from our memory. Although the Stanley is gone it’s memory will linger on forever in our hearts.

sdlubala
sdlubala on May 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I attended Western Senior High School (1963-1967) which was next door to The Stanley. We had our school assemblies there and after The Stanley was torn down we walked over to The Mayflower. Seemed strange to have two movie theaters next to each other and another on the opposite side of Howard Street.

John Bennaman.
John Bennaman. on March 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Leonard “Melody Mac” McClain recorded his Album “LEONARD MACCLAIN PLAYS BALTIMORE’S FABULOUS STANTON THEATER ORGAN” in 1964, a year before the Stanton was torn down in 1965. It features 12 beautiful vintage musical pieces played by Melody Mac at the Stanton, currently it is the only known recording of the Hugh Kimball Organ used in the Stanton and is also the only know recording in the Stanton Theatre.

durango48
durango48 on September 23, 2011 at 10:18 am

The Stanley was a nice sized theater. I remember seeing “The Carpetbaggers” here.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on August 22, 2007 at 11:57 am

Most movie palaces thrived during the 1940’s and well into the 1950’s. Many thrived in the 1960’s depending on the bookings because most movies still played exclusive run. Many of the large movie palaces even played the reserved seat roadshow films such as “The Sound of Music”. Many of the large palaces were converted to Cinerama well into the late 1960’s.brucec

rkheadl
rkheadl on May 24, 2006 at 2:57 am

Hello, Chuck. Sure the figures in Variety may be exaggerated, but they’re all we have for many theaters and they give at least some idea of the theater’s popularity. My point is that the Stanley was not a white elephant. I attended the Stanley between 1948 and 1964; it was usually well-attended even as the hateful Stanton.

rkheadl
rkheadl on May 24, 2006 at 12:34 am

I always thought the Stanley was a beautiful theater. It would be hard to find a theater facade in the state more beautiful. The lobby was like a palace and the only problem I had with the auditorium was that it was so big. I’m curious to know what the Maryland Historical Society knows about theater grosses. If you check the box office grosses given in Variety, you’ll see that the Stanley did pretty good, especially after sound movies became popular. In any case, it was a terrible loss for baltimore to have this theater senselessly destroyed to avoid competition.

rlvjr
rlvjr on June 18, 2005 at 3:44 pm

I remember the STANLEY as a beautiful place. I enjoyed just two shows here. Alfred Hitchcock’s all-time masterpiece THE BIRDS, and, in a brief return to using their stage, the JUDY GARLAND show, which toured a few grand theatres one year in the early 1960’s.

melders
melders on November 6, 2004 at 9:59 pm

Charles decribesion of the theater may be somewhat correct, since organ-ized says it was in a midieval Romanesque style. Many railroad stations built between 1885 and 1900 where built in the Romanesque style.

melders
melders on October 27, 2004 at 8:05 pm

Organ-ized I don’t know what your problem is, but you sure seem to have a problem with Charles. You tell him he is entitled to his opinion but not to be judgmental. I don’t see how he can give his opinion without being judgemental, that is the point of an opinion.

MarkA
MarkA on October 18, 2004 at 7:42 am

You are entitled to YOUR opinion, but don’t be judgmental in giving YOUR comments.

MarkA
MarkA on September 26, 2004 at 3:33 pm

Apparently, from his statement, Mr. Van Bibber might never been in the Stanley and should have not made the contribution above. The Stanley was very similar to Messrs. Hoffman and Henon’s Mastbaum Theater in Philadelphia was which hardly an “overdecorated railroad station.”

To quote Robert F. Headley’s book, Exit, a book about Baltimore’s movie theaters:

“The Stanley was built in 1927 for the Stanley-Crandell Company of Washington, D.C>, on the site of the old Academy of Music. Reliable sources indicate that at least two and three walls of the Academy of Music were used for the Stanley. The Stanley was designed and built by the Hoffman-Henon Company of Philadelphia at a cost of $2,500,00.00. The front of the theater was made of white marble with six columns surrounding three arched windows above the marquee. Fifty multi-colored flood light were available on top of the marquee to illuminate the facade. The main entrance was divied by a huge box office with space in it for four cashiers. The mammoth Mastbaum in Philadelphia closely resembled the Stanley as several other Hoffman-Henon theaters. The lobby was like some out of a Hapsburg palace. It was faced in imported Italian marble with a terrazo marble floor inlaid with brass. The ceiling of the lobby soared 100 about the floor. On either side of the lobby, marble stairways led up to the mezzanine and lower balcony. The luxoriously appointed mezzanine lounge extended the width of the theater and was richly furnished with ‘divans, easy chairs, decorative floor lamps and all of the accoutrements suggeseted by indifference to cost and a highly developed sense of refinement and comfort.’ [From the Baltimore News, 1927.] The huge main auditorium was executed in a Medieval Romanesque style. The main colors were buff, gray and pale blue, set off with gold and terra cotta with rich maroon tapestries and wall hangings. The main lighting feature was a huge Tiffany cut-crystal chandelier. GOld-lead decoration surrounded the chandelier and it was relamped yearly. Along the side walls, at various points, were marble pillars. Twenty-four 1,000-watt spotlights were located on the arch above the balcony. The Stanley had cosmetic and restrooms for the ladies and smoking rooms for men in the basement and on the mezzanine. On either side of the projection booth, there were orchestral rehearsal rooms. The Stanley’s stage was 50 feet wide and 38 feet high. The gridiron from which the scenery, draperies and other stage investitures hung was located 110 fett above the stage floor. Back stage, there were eough dressing rooms to accommodate 12 complete acts. The giant switchboard which controlled the stage lighting was one of the largest south of New York.”

Hardly an overdecorated railroad station. The Stanley’s earliest years were not good, but eventually, contrary to Mr. Van Bibber’s commentary, the theater did catch on with the theater being operated by Stanley-Warner. Interestingly, the Stanley was the scene of the world premiere of Tarzan the Ape Man on March 11, 1932. Johnny Weismuller, Maureen O'Sullivan and C. Aubrey Smith were in attendance.

Stanley-Warner sold the theater to local owner, Morris Mechanic in 1958 and he changed the name of the theater to Stanton in 1959. From then on, the theater was used for legit shows and movies. After the last show of Oliver on April 17, 1965, the theater was closed and demolition followed shortly thereafter. Mr. Mechanic built a new legit theater (a modern monstrosity) with his name on it and had the Stanley torn down for no competition.

The was a brief period of happiness in the 1960’s for the theater. Another treasure the Stanley had was its 3-manual, 28 rank, W. W. Kimball organ with a piano. It was restored in time for the local premiere of the movie, The Music Man. The Kimball was larger than most theater organs throughout the country as well. At the theater’s end, the organ was first sold to the group that restored her, but Mr. Mechanic, the wheeler-dealer he was, reneged on the agreement and sold the organ to a west-coast organ broker, who in turn offered to re-sell the organ back to the local group … at a handsome profit. The local organ group ensured that the organ broker never got to hear the organ before his arrival in Baltimore by simply disconnecting all of the ground wires from the DC current generator to the organ chambers (2). The organ eventually was sold for parts and a few pieces were left to go down with the theater, including the blower, which remains under the parking lot.

The console lives on. The Dickinson Theater Organ Society is restoring it to be a duplicate console to its Kimball organ from Philadelphia’s Boyd Theater.

I have recording of the Stanley Kimball organ, with Leonard Maclain at the console. The recording is non-descript, but it shows off the Kimball quite well. I personally knew most of the men who tried desperately to save the Stanley’s theater and organ. It was truly a loss to Baltimore. Had the “Save Our Landmarks” movement started before the Stanley was torn down, perhaps it would have become a showplace like the newly-restored Hippodrome Theater has become.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 14, 2004 at 3:29 am

The Stanley had Hoffman & Henon as architects. The seating capacity was 3,287, according to the “Big Theatre List” compiled by Theatre Historical Society of America. The Stanley was the 60th largest movie/vaudeville theatre in the USA, sandwiched between #59, Loew’s Triboro, in Astoria, NY, and #61, Loew’s State in New Orleans, LA.